In the mid 1980s, Hipsway burst onto the scene and briefly the charts only to just as quickly fade into relative obscurity, if revered ever since. Guitarist Pim Jones and Grahame Skinner, predecessor to Paul Quinn’s quiff as lead crooner in the Jazzateers, remain from the original lineup. Back in the day Skinner formed part of Glasgow’s then ‘glycerin glitterati’ along with James Grant and Justin Currie. His though a more soulful voice perfectly lubricating Jones’ spikey guitar licks and the brooding basslines of Johnny McElhone (himself en route from Altered Images to Texas). Thirty years later they have reappeared and for the many happy ‘Hippies’ in the Queen’s Hall it’s as if ever they’ve never been away.
Set This Day Apart opens the set this evening, aptly the last track on their flawless debut album and where they left off, as far as all but hardcore Hipsway fans might be concerned. This eponymous record is played in full, albeit with some of their later work, oddly clumped in the middle of the set rather than interspersed throughout. They only ‘Scratch the Surface’ of their second album with just the title track and Your Love lead single warranting an outing as well as Loverman from Witness’ House called Love, considered by Skinner and Jones as the last Hipsway recording in all but name. Some new material is also floated, including New York Days, New York Nights, indicating what may appear on next year’s new LP. Less familiar to most, this may have risked losing momentum but a patient full house who have “been waiting so long” are more than willing to hold on for the hits.
So we come to at Ask the Lord, and the sleek chic-esque guitar hook of Honeythief which raise the roof. Their follows Tinder from a time when the title was more evocative of lager than lovelies as immortalised in a stylistic McEwans advert. Swaying hips briefly turn to Talking Heads with the lifting of lyrics from Psycho Killer. This reinforces an influence apparent from earlier days when a chant seemed to emerge from Swamp onto the fading seconds of Broken Years.
Three decades on, smooth Skinner sounds as unbroken as ever, despite his curious choice of chewing gum throughout. Nor have Jones’ riffs lost any of their edge; his celebrated guitar solo effortlessly note-perfect as the band prepare to leave in a ‘Long White Car’, hopefully not for so long this time. The rest of tonight’s lineup are introduced and touchingly Skinner hails Jones “my favourite guitar player in the world”, defying what appears a surprising lack of carmaderie between the two throughout preceding proceedings. (But then they did always look suitably moody on those record sleeves). The other half of a well-deserved encore covers Tinseltown in the Rain, sparkling like the original by the Blue Nile, contemporary kindred spirits similarly eluded of commercial success in the same era. The audience applaud, appreciate, and sing along until the lights go up.
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